Posts Tagged ‘pack’

Super-moon, Solo-mom and the Last Training Mission

So apparently last night was the biggest full moon of the year which meant that it was extra impressive. My boys had been talking about this super happening for days and they were granted special permission to stay up and watch it. Guess where they got to watch it from…Algonquin Provincial Park. Guess where I DIDN’T get to watch it from…Algonquin Provincial Park.

Fraser has taken the boys on their last training hike before our epic adventure to Pukaskwa National Park in three weeks. I however, had to stay in the city and work. That’s okay though, I THINK that I’m prepared.  The training thus far has included loading up the packs and hiking around our hilly neighbourhood so carrying all of that weight won’t feel so foreign. We’ve also been trying to get out on regular runs to build endurance. Personally I’ve been periodically wearing a 30lb pack for entire shifts at work. I get a lot of questions from customers about that one!  But the best gauge of our preparedness is going to rest in the success (or lack thereof) of the hike this weekend.

While we normally don’t mind shouldering the majority of the gear burden, Pukaskwa’s wild trail will mark the first hike that the boys will be hauling all of their own personal items including sleeping bags, sleeping pads and clothing. Fraser and I will carry our own stuff and then split the remaining shared gear and food between us. Our packs weigh-in somewhere in the neighbourhood of:

Zach 10lbs

Luke 15lbs

Jenny 25lbs

Fraser 40lbs

And so that is what they are carrying this weekend. My hope is that their little shoulders survive unbruised, that little feet remain blister free and that enthusiasm doesn’t wain in the face of difficulty. This lonely mom can’t wait until her boys are home again. I can’t wait to hear what they thought of that gorgeous unobstructed view of the super-moon. And I can’t wait to hear the trip report, the one that hopefully proves that all of our preparation has paid off. Keep your fingers crossed for us because the last training mission ends today. The next time we gaze at a moon from a park we will all be together, 14hrs north of our real lives, living out a dream.

Kids on Parade – Portaging and Pack Fitting

Okay so enough about my portaging experience this past weekend. It’s time to talk about the kids.

zach and the canoes

like a well oiled machine, luke and zach load up














I was so proud of them all.  Boy did they ever carry their share.  We even packed a little bag for Charlotte.  At first she seemed skeptical when we broke the news that she too was going to participate.  Soon enough though, she was lamenting the fact that her bag was so much smaller than Luke and Zach’s.  Don’t worry sweetie, next time we’ll make up for it with a nice big pack of your very own.  She’s gonna need a pack too.  Where else is she gonna  sew that “I paddled

luke’s drybag pack isn’t fully adjustable, but fits fairly well

Frontenac” patch that Steve bought her at the park office?
Experienced guys like ours want to show how helpful they are by begging bigger and heavier loads with each subsequent trip.  Although they would haul whatever we packed for them, there is a safe limit to how much weight a kid should carry.

This begs the question, how much is too much?

Unfortunately there is no consensus on this number.  For everyday school bag use, specialists advise not allowing children to carry more than 20% of their body weight.   Portaging is slightly different in that it is for a short period of time and happens only periodically, not on a daily basis.  I think that a 20% limit is a good place to start though.  If your child is big and strong and has experience, you might try venturing a little bit heavier, but it only takes one misstep with a heavy pack to pull a muscle.  Err in favor of going lighter.  Having said that, how the weight is carried and the backpack you choose as well as how it has been fitted is of paramount importance.

this pack is a little bit big for zach, but is adjusted well

that’s charlotte portaging like a pro













Here are some tips, but you should really have help fitting the pack properly at your local outfitter.

  • wide padded straps reduce pressure points and make things more comfortable (less whining)
  • a padded back will prevent gear from poking against the back (owie), provides back support and helps prevent bad posture
  • padded hip belt transfers the weight load to hips instead of carrying it with the shoulders
  • a sternum strap helps hold the shoulder straps in the right place
  • the pack must fit the back length (not based on height), look for an adjustable back system for a better fit and to get more than a seasons use out of the bag!
  • pack the heaviest items closest to the child’s back to help with balance, and the lightest item (eg. sleeping bag) at the bottom and mid-weight items at the top to avoid a top-heavy pack which is what makes them fall over and get stuck like turtles on their backs
  • compression straps reefed down nice and tight keeps gear close to the body and helps the load from shifting around

Now that you know how to load them up, go ahead and do it.  They are going to love contributing in a tangible way, and you’re going to love being able to bring the bigger Therm-a-Rest again 😉

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